Category Archives: 1960’s

The men at Eva’s Boarding House, Houston, Texas, 1967

metropolitan 2

Hi readers.  There must have been 20 of us staying at Eva’s for $20 a week.  Two meals a day and a bed, usually 2-3 guys to a room.  All the rooms were sectioned off with imaginary boundaries so each renter had a footlocker and place to hang his clothes, shared a shower and john.

We were welders, mechanics, service station attendants, short order cooks, construction workers and day laborers.  Eva made sure we all had jobs, before she’d rent to anyone.  She ran a high quality place and didn’t want any riffraff staying there.  And most of us stayed.  During the year I lived there only a few moved on, only a rare new guy came in.

So we all got to know one another, became a mealtime community of sorts.  Mostly hung out nights at the bar next door called the Buckhorn.  We were almost all veterans, by hindsight I’d say we were headed to an alcoholic future if we kept on the way we were going.  But we were America.  Young guys between 20 and 30 years old, all white, all working hard and assuming that was how a person lives.

Naturally most of us thought about women a lot, tried to pick up women anytime they came into the Buckhorn.  Flirted with Eva when we got a chance.  Told one another stories about women we knew, women where we’d been, women we’d been in the sack with, women we couldn’t get into the sack.

A few of the guys at Eva’s were divorced, and I recall one from Victoria or Wharton who was still married and went off weekends to see his family.  The rest of us mostly hung out in bars or tried to womanize however we could.  Around that time I began dating my [now] ex-wife in Port Lavaca and spending the weekends down the coast.

We guys at Eva’s couldn’t care less about politics.  Lyndon Johnson was president, the Vietnam War was raging, and it was none of our business.  We wanted to drink a lot and we wanted women.

One day during the evening meal someone said a shop had opened further down Alabama Street where the sold dirty books and had machines you could put a quarter into.  He said they actually showed people screwing in those machines.  Movies showing people screwing for a quarter.

Most of us were skeptical.  That sort of thing would get a person in jail, we speculated.  So after supper we all headed down there, walking along Alabama Street, laughing and joking, poking one another in the ribs.  Into the first porn shop in Houston, Texas.

A lot of quarters went into those machines that night.  And on the way home, at
meals for days afterward it was the dominating subject of conversation.
Wondering how those people were getting by with showing that.  Wondering what kind of people the women were, whether they were hookers, strippers, or just regular women.

Most of the guys figured they were strippers and hookers. Figured the place was
run by off-duty cops so’s to allow it to stay open.  Shows how the world has
matured since 1967.

We guys at Eva’s had been around the block, been overseas, most of us.  Served in the military.  Hung around with hookers, drank, gambled and drove too fast.  While drunk sometimes.  We thought we knew a lot.  And we knew nothing.

I never saw any of those guys again after I got married in August that year for the next 25 years.  I’m betting they all went right on through life thinking they knew a lot, same as we’d thought back at Eva’s.  I certainly did.  A lot of what I knew I learned from those guys at Eva’s.  Or at least a piece of it.  And none of us knew anything for me to learn from.  We wee a bunch of ignorant normal people.

We thought the women in those porn videos were different from other women.  Different from the women we knew, except maybe hookers we knew.  There was no way we could have guesseed they were probably just regular women who decided they wanted to give that a try and weren’t ashamed, browbeaten, frightened by public opinion into not doing it.

Likely some were fair to middling good people.

But we guys down at Eva’s Boarding House hadn’t lived long enough to understand this world is a complicated place for human beings.  It’s bad about keeping the cards close to the cuff.

Old Jules

“If those Japanese could have held out through one more atomic bomb we wouldn’t be eating this crap!”

Hi readers.  Here’s wishing you a fulfilling independence from having the British for your bosses ordering you around and making you drink their damned tea.  If our ancestors hadn’t won their independence from the British we’d have had to fight on their side during WWI and WWII, the way their other colonies did.

Anyway, that WWI museum got me thinking about what GIs used to eat.  There was a long shelf of displays of their mess kits, carved fancier than a POW would do.  Beautiful designs and artwork produced while their feet were rotting off in trenches between having the bejesus shelled out of them and being sniped at across no-man’s-land.

 In Korea, at least in the First Cavalry Division, what we ate in 1963-1964 whenever we were on field rations was all left over from WWII.  1945ish WWII.  K Rations.

Breakfast Unit  Canned meat product Biscuits Compressed cereal bar Powdered coffee Fruit bar Chewing gum Sugar tablets Four cigarettes Water-purification tablets Can opener Wooden spoon

Breakfast Unit
Canned meat product
Biscuits
Compressed cereal bar
Powdered coffee
Fruit bar
Chewing gum
Sugar tablets
Four cigarettes
Water-purification tablets
Can opener
Wooden spoon

Camp Howze, Korea, had an enormous bunker chock full of K Rations of the nostalgic variety dating from before the Japanese surprised us with a surrender while we still had an atomic bomb and one-hell-of-a-lot of K Rations left.  I can testify from personal experience the US Army was patriotic and continued eating those rations 20 years after the premature and cowardly surrender of Japan.

Dinner Unit  Canned cheese product Biscuits A candy bar Chewing gum Powdered beverage Granulated sugar Salt tablets Cigarettes Matches Can opener  Wooden spoon

Dinner Unit
Canned cheese product
Biscuits
A candy bar
Chewing gum
Powdered beverage
Granulated sugar
Salt tablets
Cigarettes
Matches
Can opener
Wooden spoon

 Our quonsot hut had a corner filled with Ks still in the cartons so we could fill those long winter nights with partying song, beer, and anything worth eating in a crate of Ks.

Supper Unit Canned meat product Biscuits Bouillon powder Candy Chewing gum Powdered coffee Granulated sugar Cigarettes Can opener Toilet paper Wooden spoon

Supper Unit
Canned meat product
Biscuits
Bouillon powder
Candy
Chewing gum
Powdered coffee
Granulated sugar
Cigarettes
Can opener
Toilet paper
Wooden spoon

The cigarettes in ours weren’t Chesterfields.  Ours were Lucky Strikes in a Green package.  As in the old radio WWII jingle, “Lucky Strike green has gone to war!”  Lucky Strike changed colors after the war to red and white, but Luckies kept right on fighting in green until all those damned Ks were consumed by GIs.

Ahhh.  Nothing like sparking up a Lucky out of a carton of Ks, working fast to inhale a little tobacco smoke before it burned down to your fingertips.  Those smokes were 20 years old and we never found a way to add enough moisture to keep them smoking instead of burning.

And the chocolate!  The godforsaken chocolate turned white with age.  We didn’t care.  Everything in those Ks got tried and nobody ever died from them.  And I never heard of anyone getting drunk from them.

Fact was, a person with extra money could go to the PX and get crackers, but if he did he’d have to share with the whole hooch.  Same with sardines.  And we had KATUSAs in our hooch.  Four of them.  Korean Augmentations to the US Army.  And those bastards could go through a case of crackers, cans of sardines, quicker than you could make a grab for a can before they were gone.

But even the KATUSAs couldn’t make remarkably short work of a case of Ks.  There was always enough for everyone, along with some leftovers to munch on guard duty.

Damn.  These modern all-volunteer military guys are spoiled.  Except maybe in Korea.  Hell, in Korea they might still be eating Ks and wishing to hell the Japanese had gutted out another atomic bomb.

Old Jules

Ferry tales

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits.  Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service].  Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle.  Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters.  Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam.  I'm betting these guys had better sense than to reinlist.

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits. Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service]. Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle. Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters. Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam. I’m betting these guys had better sense than to reenlist.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Camp Howze, Korea, 1963, 1964.  I was standing in a chow line almost certainly with one of the guys in this picture waiting for breakfast.  A twelve-year-old Korean lad came down the line selling Stars and Stripes newspapers, yelling, “Lots of Japs killed!  Hurrah!  Lots of Japs killed!

Koreans still savored a deep hatred for Japanese in those days.  Having your mamas and grandmamas raped more-or-less whenever the mood hit for a few decades probably does that.  At least when the rapers are of a particular nationality.  [I've wondered whether East Germans don't feel some of that toward the Rooskies because of their grannies during the retreat from the Eastern Front].

Anyway, it was a ferry disaster of some sort carrying Japanese passengers.  The first time I recall ever paying any mind to ferries and the associated dangers.

But over the decades I’ve certainly heard about a lot of them.  I suspect a risk assessment involving frequent use of ferries would reveal it to be more dangerous than airliners, trains or busses.  Not to say I haven’t ridden on a lot of them.

But on a ferry going between [I think] Newport News, RI, and Long Island, a nuclear attack submarine surfaced next to our ferry almost close enough to touch.  We assumed at the time the submarine commander was perfectly aware of the ferry.  By hindsight, though, I’m brought to wonder whether he had to go change his shorts when our presence and proximity came to his attention.

A person used to be able to pay once to get on the Statin Island Ferry and ride it back and forth all night, which I did a good many times.  Near misses with smaller craft were relatively common and a source of amusement for the ferry passengers.

I was on a ferry to one of the outer banks islands of Georgia, or North Carolina once when it hit something hard enough to jangle the eye-teeth of everyone aboard.  Never heard what it was, but none of the passengers were laughing.

Which is to say, life’s full of surprises and ferries have the potential for providing new ones.

I don’t recall when I began carrying a couple of hundred feet of small diameter 200 pound test rope with me in my luggage when I travelled.  But I do recall it was a decision I made watching people diving out of the windows of burning multi-story buildings on the news.  A bit of rope, I observed, would have saved a lot of them by allowing them to get off the upper floors and beneath the fires.

If I had to ride a ferry every day I’d probably decide an inflatable camp pillow would provide a nice place to sit on those hard ferry benches.  One person aboard protected by one inflatable pillow would remove the temptation those vessels wave around in front of the Coincidence Coordinators inviting disaster.

Old Jules

 

 

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

IMG_2234

Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

IMG_2237

!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

IMG_2245

Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

IMG_2238

Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

IMG_2239

The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

IMG_2240

The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

IMG_2243

This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

IMG_2249

Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

IMG_2250

The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

IMG_2252

The Dugout

  IMG_2241 IMG_2242 IMG_2244 IMG_2246 IMG_2247 IMG_2251

A morning on the VA medical launchpad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I don’t know a lot more about my health this afternoon than I knew when I awakened this morning, but I know a good deal more about other interesting matters than I once did.  Went through the television interview with some people somewhere else asking about various health issues.  This evidently resulted in checkmarks going to a file telling them what testing to do afterward in the lab.

Judging from the tests the interviewers weren’t discounting a hyperfunctioning thyroid, though they  were closed-mouth about any opinions they formed during the interview.  They did hint at the possibility I might want to take it easy and not do anything particular until I’ve seen the doctor on the 20th of December.

But hanging around that waiting area was worth the price of admission.  Discovered what a huge percentage of the circa 1965-1975 US Army, AF, Navy and Marine Corps who end up getting health treatment from the VA have discovered they were point-men infantrymen, snipers, and other non-company clerk in Danang, personnel or supply clerk, cooks, or motorpool monkeys in Siagon [folks comprising 90+ percent of the Vietnam jobs of the time].

Which is to say, when you’re an old bastard and find your life hasn’t been sufficiently interesting, you can sit in the waiting room at the VA and blow smoke up the asses of a lot of other old guys.  And if you do, some others will crawl out of the wood work to provide an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual ex post facto revisions of history.  I’ve got a feeling the non-vet practice promiscuously using phrases such as, ‘fought for our freedoms,’ or ‘fought in Vietnam’  brings the incentive.  If you were in Vietnam and never heard a shot fired in anger along with almost everyone else in Vietnam, how do you reconcile it with someone accusing you of ‘fighting for our freedoms?’  Or, ‘fought in Vietnam’?

Lordee what a needy bunch of sons of bitches we Americans are in our dotage.

Old Jules’

Big Spring Buggaboo Karma on the Half-shell

Hi readers.

1967, I’m going to say, though it might have been 1968, my somewhat newlywed wife and I headed from Houston to my home town of Portales, NM, for reasons I no longer fathom.  Driving a 10 year-old Fairlane 500.  Crossed the easy Texas parts without incident, but around midnight pulled over 12 miles outside Big Spring, TX to piss and kiss, most likely.

Shut down the engine and when I went to start it again the battery was dead.  Soooo, we bundled up and tried to sleep, but pre-dawn I was on the shoulder of the road trying to flag down someone with booster cables.  Watching the light emerge and a mesa-like hill across the highway a few miles.

Nice guy in a pickup stopped and boosted us off.  When I thanked him he commented he just couldn’t leave anyone stranded 12 miles outside Big Spring, Texas.  Fixed that hill to the west and the distance in my mind forever.

So last week when I was headed here, saw the sign south of Big Spring, BIG SPRING 13 miles and remembered, began watching for that hill.  There it was, just as obvious as that morning so long ago.

BOOM WHACK CLUNKCLUNKCLUNKBANGCLUNK!

Blew out the inside rear tire on the driver side.

But no way I was  pulling over and shutting down my engine.  So I drove on into Big Spring, eased west toward Andrews.  Didn’t blow the second tire until 15 miles from here.

Some things in this life a person doesn’t need to learn twice.  Even if he’s me.  That place 12 miles south of Big Springs is one of them.

Jack

J. D. Salinger needs a good horse-whipping

Five new JD Salinger books on the way

Titles expected between 2015 and 2020

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/03/new-jd-salinger-fiction-documentary

Hi readers.

When J.D. Salinger went stealth in the 1960s I didn’t think he could hold out.  I snickered to myself and said he was in there writing books and one day he’d lose his determination and drop them on me like depth charges.  I figured I could hold out longer than he could.

Eventually I began to think I had him figured wrong maybe.  That he’d either burned all his stuff and wasn’t writing more, or that he was a Class A horses ass and just wasn’t going to let any of it go public until after he died.  Then he died and for a while I was sure that now, now, now, here they’d come!

They didn’t, and when I turned 70 one of the things I had to reconcile myself to was that J.D. Salinger wasn’t gonna have anymore books during my lifetime.  Decided he was indeed a Class A horses ass.

But yesterday Jeanne sent me the link above.  Oh, yeah.  Thanks a lot, J.D. Salinger.  2015.  Hell, I went out to the RV, took some mega vitamins checked my blood pressure, then checked over the cats trying to figure out what we all need to do in order to survive until 2015.

I’m thinking it’s going to be a cliff-hanger, but we’ve got a middling good shot at lasting until the first one.  I’m okay, the cats seem okay.  I’ll gear up the cat-vitamins just to help us along, make sure they eat less hard food and more canned food, and we’ll take a run at it.  Might even squeeze it all the way to the last one in 2020.

But if J.D. Salinger happens to only be pretending to be dead I’d love to say a few choice words to him.

Old Jules

Just to clarify the JFK LBJ thing

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne told me on the phone last night she was surprised by my several references to LBJ arranging for the death of JFK.  “I didn’t think you believed in conspiracies, for the most part.”

And for the most part she’s right.  I don’t believe human beings are honest enough and consistent enough to pull off successful conspiracies over the long haul.  Someone’s going to let the cat out of the bag.  And I think the cat has been coming out of the bag about the Kennedy assassination gradually for a considerable while.

I don’t know or care who was directly responsible for the Dallas shooting.  To me, JFK was just another US President, no better, no worse than the last several.  I’m not offended, not in any way exercized by the fact someone offed him.

But I do believe there’s a fair body of evidence LBJ knew ahead of time Kennedy was going to be killed.  And he knew who knew everything else about it.  Other than that he mightn’t have been involved, beyond giving it his tacit approval.

The LBJ Library in Austin has the tapes of all the White House LBJ telephone conversations of the time.  Here’s a conversation between LBJ and J Edgar Hoover, FBI Director, shortly after the Dallas event.  LBJ starts by grilling Hoover about why his friend John Connally, Governor of Texas, got a bullet.  Then he goes on to discuss how the investigation into the assassination can be kept small.

LBJ TAPES: Kennedy Assassination 1 (J. Edgar Hoover) .
http://youtu.be/4ZWERQevzms

Seems to me it’s clear that Hoover knew exactly who did the shooting and what the shooter intended to hit.  And that LBJ knew that Hoover knew.

The people who upload YouTube videos frequently intend to use the videos to help watchers interpret them as the uploaders think they should.  I believe this has happened with a number of the Kennedy assassination YouTube videos.  For instance, I don’t believe LBJ’s mistress knew whether LBJ engineered the killing of JFK.  But I believe it’s clear from what she describes that LBJ knew about the plans to kill Kennedy before it happened.

LBJ’s Mistress Blows Whistle On JFK Assassination .http://youtu.be/79lOKs0Kr_Y

Again, I don’t think this means LBJ told anyone to kill Kennedy.  He might just have tacitly approved of them doing it and agreed to keep his mouth shut.

By one of those strange coincidences of history, Richard Nixon, a man who hated Kennedy as much as anyone alive at the time, happened to have been in Dallas for a couple of days when Kennedy came to town.

November 21, 1963 – Richard M. Nixon in Dallas, Texas .
http://youtu.be/UkeCQWk9ID8

Nixon evidently believed there was a middling good chance LBJ had Kennedy shot, as he joked years later.

NIXON jokes about LBJ killing JFK .
http://youtu.be/OJIb73SPzkE

E. Howard Hunt, one of the guys who went to prison for the Watergate affair, admitted on his death bed he’d been involved in the Kennedy killing and named others.

E. Howard Hunt Outs Lyndon Johnson in JFK Assassination Plot
http://youtu.be/bD4611qW6R8

This one’s hokey and unreliable, but I think at least it can be said RFK probably believed LBJ had John Kennedy killed.

RFK to Johnson: “Why did you kill you have my brother killed
http://youtu.be/zzWNDPx4Pm0

The conversation you hear on tape isn’t about LBJ, JFK, though.  It’s about Hoover investigating RFK and whether RJK is trying to violently overthrow LBJ and the US Government by force.

Lyndon Johnson Admits To Walter Cronkite That He Killed Kennedy .
http://youtu.be/xd1wuXrVPjo

This Walter Cronkite interview with LBJ years later is probably the strongest testimony that LBJ didn’t actually give the orders for the killing.  But that he thoroughly believed there was a conspiracy involved involving several others.

As I’ve said, I don’t think it matters who was behind the Kennedy killing.  Nor why they did it.  But I don’t blame LBJ for being pissed Connally got shot with JFK.  Connally was still alive, knew a lot about LBJ and was able to talk.  LBJ needed to be able to assure Connelly it was an accident, him getting hit.

John Connally’s first interview after 11/22/63
http://youtu.be/cP04_lGjkO0

Collateral damages, no harm intended.  “Sorry old buddy.  Someone screwed up.”

And 50 years later, who the hell cares?  Human beings make lousy conspirators.  People eventually talk.

Old Jules

John F. Kennedy and Barbie go to Boston – 1962 – The rest of the story

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I promised the other day that I’d relate one more precious memory of John and Jackie Kennedy’s Boston adventure. 

A better way – Getting new royalty when the President croaks

So here it is.

All those men lined up along Boylston Street, including Julio, Tonyand I were still mesmerized by the thoughts of whether Jackie Kennedy would be an inspired bed partner.  The street between the police cordons was vacant for a moment, when suddenly the sound of a bell clanging brought our attention back.

Hell bent down empty Boylston came a vehicle pulling an open trailer.  A guy was on the back of the trailer ringing a huge bell mounted there, big bell.  Church bell sized, rather than locomotive sized.  On the side of the trailer was a huge sign, “KRUSHCHEV SAYS, ‘WE WILL BURY YOU!”

They zipped past us, hung a hard left around Boston Plaza, and swung in behind the emptying motorcade in front of the Plaza Hotel.  Still ringing that damned bell.  [Likely the granddaddy of the patriots of today, I'm thinking by hindsight.]

Friends and readers, this whole thing was not in keeping with the high standards Boston wanted in their welcoming Ken and Barbie to town.  Every cop on Boylston forgot about that yellow tape and ran across Boston Plaza, pulling their billy clubs out as they ran.  Wasn’t any time at all before that trailer was surrounded by Boston’s finest and all an observer could see was the backs of cops and a forest of billy clubs rising and falling.

They weren’t aiming for that bell, either.  Didn’t hear it clang one single time after the first club rose and fell.

But you’ve got to admit the guy had imagination and class.  A freaking liberty bell!  You surely don’t see that anymore.  All these teapartying occupiers just go around telling one another inane BS about what they think about guns and abortion and Wall Street.

If that guy with the liberty bell lived through the next five minutes after the cops got him, he might be still alive.  He could teach these modern jerks a thing or two about how to deliver messages to the Kens and Barbies.

Having some Secret Service or Homeland Security thug put a rifle bullet through your face before the cops arrived with mace and 20,000 volt non-lethal zappers to finish you off ought not deter anyone from a little display of class and imagination.

Old Jules

Farnham’s Freehold, by Robert A. Heinlein 1964

Hi readers.  Here’s another one of those old early-days RAH tomes to give you some smiles, some anachronisms to feel smug about, and a couple of truly interesting things to think about.

The first part of the book is all the usual suspects, family with a bomb shelter before the bombs fall, etc.  If you haven’t read a thousand others, might as well get it done  with this one, I reckons.

But then the bombs hit, one of them dead-center.  Spang blows Farnham and his family into sometime a longish while in the future, same spot.  Then the fun starts.

The big powers destroyed themselves and most of the other non-ethnic places full of advanced white people.  So when Farnham and his white family come up for air it isn’t long before they’re discovered by the meek who inherited the earth.  Africans, mainly, in this area.  A sort of do-it-yourself African empire sitting atop the ruins of the US.

Sure, some white people survived.  Most have been adopted as slaves in a manner similar to the way the Ottomans treated captured Europeans during an earlier time.  Bred the good ones for physical and mental traits, castrated the others and put them to work.  Kept a lot of females for breeding stock, too.

So once they’re captured, Farnham and his family are forced to adapt themselves to a lifestyle most white people have spent a lot more generations becoming unaccustomed to than was good for them.  Farnham’s wife lucks into being the paramour of one of the black rulers, and being a 20th Century mom, wants her son with her.  But him being a male, her being part of the harem, he’s got to be castrated first.  Which gives her pause, but only momentarily.

And so on.

Lots of laughs in this book.  A truly fun read.

Old Jules